A few more items on the Iran front: -- (1) The commander-in-chief of the Israeli air force's refusal to "say even a word" on Israeli plans with respect to Iran was turned into a Haaretz headline that "Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran." -- (2) In reviewing George W. Bush's remarks upon arriving in Europe Monday, Pakistan's News emphasized Bush's statement that "The Iranian regime must end support for terrorism and must not develop nuclear weapons," words that echo the accusations the U.S. president made in 2002-2003 against Iraq before overthrowing its government. -- (3) The same paper reported that Iran's top negotiator with the EU, Sirus Nasseri, told the Iranian state news agency IRNA that Iran would not permanently give up its nuclear enrichment program, which is an aim of France, Britain, and Germany in the ongoing talks. -- (4) ABC News contributed some anti-Iranian press in the form of a reposting of a story it broadcast on Feb. 12 on the former U.S. embassy that was the scene of much of the 1979-1981 drama of U.S. hostages....
ISRAEL MUST BE PREPARED FOR AN AIR STRIKE ON IRAN
By Haaretz staff and Associated Press
February 21, 2005
Israel Air Force Commander-in-Chief Major General Eliezer Shakedi said Monday that Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran in light of its nuclear activity.
But in a meeting with reporters, Shakedi wouldn't say whether he thought Israel was capable of carrying out such a mission alone, as it did when it bombed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981.
When asked whether Israel has a plan for the Iranian nuclear program, Shakedi replied, "You know that for obvious reasons, I won't say even a word."
But when asked whether he was confident the air force could provide the answer to the Iranian threat, Shakedi replied, "I must be prepared for everything."
The Israeli air force commander also discussed the fluid situation in neighboring Lebanon.
The assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri "can create a new picture in Lebanon," Shakedi said.
With Syria, Hezbollah guerrillas and Hezbollah's Iranian benefactors all operating in Lebanon, "we understand who has interests" in Hariri being out of the picture, he said.
Asked whether the IAF has changed its deployment since the assassination, he replied, "Of course we won't let the other side hit us."
"We have a job to protect the citizens of Israel," Shakedi said. "I hope that there won't be a war -- but you know, no one knows."
NUCLEAR IRAN NOT ACCEPTABLE: BUSH
** Warns Tehran over its support to terrorism; demands end to Syria's occupation of Lebanon; backs 'free Palestine' **
February 22, 2005
BRUSSELS -- U.S. President George W Bush urged Iran on Monday to end its support for terrorism, warning that Tehran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
"In Iran, the free world shares a common goal for the sake of peace," Bush said in a keynote speech in Brussels, where he is seeking to bury the hatchet with Europe over the Iraq war. "The Iranian regime must end support for terrorism and must not develop nuclear weapons," he said in the Belgian capital, where he arrived on Sunday on his first stop in a three-country European trip.
Washington has alleged that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build nuclear weapons, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies, saying that its nuclear program is completely peaceful.
European nations, led by France, Britain and Germany, have been seeking to persuade Iran to comply with international obligations in return for a lucrative package of trade deals. But Washington has been pressing for Iran to be brought before the U.N. Security Council, which could choose to impose sanctions. And fears have mounted that Washington could resort to military strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear plants.
"In safeguarding the security of free nations no option can be taken permanently off the table," Bush told the crowd of European dignitaries. "Iran however is different from Iraq," he assured the audience, referring to Washingtons unilateral decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.
"Were in the early stages of diplomacy. . . . Were working closely with Britain, France and Germany, as they oppose Irans nuclear ambitions and as they insist that Iran comply with international law."
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on the United States to join the European effort. Its head, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the European efforts can succeed only "if the United States joins in and throws its weight behind it. "Progress is difficult to conceive without Washington," ElBaradei told the weekly Der Spiegel, adding, "We need a common front." But Bush warned: "The results of this approach now depend largely on Iran." He added: "We also look to Iran to finally deliver on promised reform. The time has arrived for the Iranian regime to listen to the Iranian people and respect their rights and join in the movement toward liberty that is taking place all around them."
Bush demanded an end to Syrias "occupation" of Lebanon, saying the countrys people "have the right to be free." He said that Lebanon, which is reeling after the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri last week, was "a once thriving country that now suffers under the influence of an oppressive neighbor."
Bush underlined that Syria must take stronger action to stop those who support violence in Iraq and "end its support for terrorist groups seeking to destroy the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
"Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon. The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in an democratic, independent Lebanon," he said.
Recalling recent elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq, he said: "Without Syrian interference, Lebanons parliamentary elections in the spring can be another milestone of liberty." Bush also pledged support for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and for Palestinian reform, which he said would give momentum to changes throughout the Middle East.
"Our greatest opportunity, and our immediate goal, is peace in the Middle East," Bush said. Bush devoted much of a speech at the outset of a visit to the European Union and NATO alliance to the Middle East and the improved prospects for peace with the new Palestinian leadership that took over after the death of Yasser Arafat in November.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has "an opportunity to put together a strategy of reform," Bush said. "I hope he will seize the moment," Bush said. The U.S. leader said he would send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to an international conference in London March 1 designed to help the Palestinian authority reform its finances and security system. But Bush cautioned that reforms cannot happen all at once.
"We seek peace between Israel and Palestine for its own sake," said Bush, who supports a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel. "We also know that a free and peaceful Palestine can add to the momentum of reform throughout the broader Middle East." Bush pledged to "raise the flag of a free Palestine," and said: "The world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict."
U.S. President Bush prodded Russia not turn its back on democratic advances. "In a new century, the alliance of America and Europe is the main pillar of our security," he said. He uses the word "alliance" 12 times in the speech to underscore his aim to repair relations with Europe that were frayed over the war in Iraq. But not all his speech was conciliatory.
"We recognize that reform will not happen overnight," Bush said, just three days before he meets with Putin in Slovakia. "We must always remind Russia that our alliance stands for a free press, a vital opposition, the sharing of power and the rule of law. The United States should place democratic reform at the heart of their dialogue with Russia."
The president also had pointed advice for two pivotal U.S. allies in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and Egypt. "The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future," Bush said, urging greater move toward giving Saudi more political freedom.
"The great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East," Bush said. "Some Europeans joined the fight to liberate Iraq, while others did not," Bush said. "All nations now have an interest in the success of a free and democratic Iraq, which will fight terror, which will be a beacon of freedom and which will be a source of true stability in the region."
TEHRAN REJECTS 'SELL OUT' OF ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM
February 22, 2005
TEHRAN -- Iran has rejected an EU call for Tehran to draw up a compromise formula on uranium enrichment, saying it will not "sell out" its nuclear capabilities, a top negotiator said on Monday.
"The Europeans want to get from Iran a total halt to enrichment, but in the face of our strong opposition they insisted in the negotiations that Iran propose an alternative which also covers enrichment," Sirus Nasseri told the state news agency IRNA.
France, Britain and Germany are leading diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to permanently abandon its nuclear enrichment program in return for a package of political and economic benefits.
"The Europeans are progressively learning that Iran will not sell out on its nuclear capacities," Nasseri said. "Iran will not propose an alternative until Europe stops asking it to halt enrichment and no longer talks about it," he said, adding that "a final agreement in these negotiations will be based on the resumption of enrichment by Iran."
"We are going to give the European a chance to come" to an accord but "this possibility will not be eternal," said Nasseri. He insisted Tehran would complete the fuel cycle, adding: "Iran in the next 30 years will possess the necessary equipment to feed several power plants and export nuclear fuel." He dismissed U.S. threats of force against Iran, saying they were more aimed at putting pressure on Europe than on Iran.
ABC News Original Report
IRANIANS DEPICT AMERICAN 'DEN OF SPIES'
By Bob Woodruff
** Anti-American Museum Fills Site Where Hostage Crisis Played Out 25 Years Ago **
February 21, 2005 (originally reported on "World News Tonight" on Feb. 12)
[PHOTO CAPTION: The museum at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran preserves a hidden conference room that the museum's operators refer to as the "glassy room."]
[PHOTO CAPTION: Operators of an anti-American museum at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran have added an exhibit on American abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.]
TEHRAN -- From the outside, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran looks much like it did in 1979, except for the rotor of the U.S. helicopter that crashed in the desert during the failed rescue of the 52 American hostages held there for 444 days a quarter century ago.
Inside is a museum of what the director, Majid, called "America's ongoing crimes."
Although it was turned into a museum long ago, TV cameras have rarely been allowed in. But it recently was renovated, which may explain why Iranians proudly showed ABC News what they now call the "den of spies."
Souvenirs seized by the hostage-takers are antiques now -- including old computers and circuitry, a device to destroy documents, and a massive code machine from the National Security Agency.
One of the central exhibits here is what they call the "glassy room" for top-secret meetings. Majid said it is set up more or less how they found it when the American spies operated here -- though he said they removed the green velvet drapes and added mannequins to depict one of the alleged secret meetings.
'NO RELATIONSHIP WITH AMERICA'
There are not many visitors to the museum. Most that came when ABC News visited did not want to share their impressions.
"We have no relationship with America now, so it's better," one visitor said.
Although this museum has been around in some form since the hostages were released, it has been updated to include derogatory pictures of George Bush, shown drowning in one depiction along with Israel's Ariel Sharon.
There is a new exhibit on the war in Iraq and the mistreatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.
Majid says his hope is that the United States and Iran eventually will become friends and museums like this one day won't exist.
--ABC News' Bob Woodruff originally reported this story for "World News Tonight" on Feb. 12, 2005.